Thai National Parks

Species of Thailand

Indian vagabond butterflyfish

Chaetodon decussatus

Georges-Frédéric Cuvier, 1829

The Indian Vagabond Butterflyfish, Chaetodon decussatus, is a species of butterflyfish (family Chaetodontidae). It is found in the Indo-West Pacific, from the Maldives via India, Sri Lanka and the Andaman Sea to the westernmost portion of the Indonesian archipelago.

Growing to a maximum of 20 cm (nearly 8 in) long, it is found on rich coral reefs and also on rubble and rocky areas. The monogamous adults swim in pairs and may be territorial and aggressive to other Chaetodon; juveniles are solitary. The Indian Vagabond Butterflyfish feeds largely on algae and coral polyps. They are oviparous.

It belongs to the large subgenus Rabdophorus which might warrant recognition as a distinct genus. In this group, it almost certainly is a rather close relative of the Threadfin Butterflyfish (C. auriga) and the Vagabond Butterflyfish (C. vagabundus). C. decussatus might be closer to the Threadfin Butterflyfish than to the common Vagabond Butterflyfish; as C. vagabundus has yielded abnormal DNA sequence data this is hard to say however. The C. auriga species group shares the characteristic pattern of two areas of ascending and descending oblique lines; species differ conspicuously in hindpart coloration.

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Scientific classification

Chaetodon decussatus

Common names

  • English:
    • Blackened butterflyfish
    • Black-finned vagabond
    • Indian vagabond butterflyfish


  • Chaetodon vagabundus jordani, Christoph Gustav Ernst Ahl (1923)
  • Chaetodon decassatus (lapsus)

Conservation status

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)


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Indian vagabond butterflyfish
Chaetodon decussatus

Range Map

Distribution map of Indian vagabond butterflyfish, Chaetodon decussatus in Thailand
  • Similan Islands
Range map of Chaetodon decussatus in Thailand